Wrongful Death Beneficiaries in New York

When an act of negligence causes a wrongful death, beneficiaries can recover damages in a wrongful death claim. In New York, a spouse, children, and parents may be beneficiaries and recover damages per their pecuniary losses.

These types of cases can stem from auto accidents, nursing home neglect or abuse, medical malpractice, defective products and other personal injury in New York. A personal injury attorney in Long Island will use various evidence to help establish liability and can help sort out who may be a wrongful death beneficiary.

Who can be a wrongful death beneficiary? 

When damages are awarded in a wrongful death claim, they are disbursed according to priority under intestate laws. In New York, they go to a surviving spouse only if there are no children.

If there are children, the spouse will receive $50,000 and half of the remaining balance of the award. The rest is divided equally among the children.

Let’s say a family member dies at the hands of a surgeon and its determined medical malpractice was the cause. The wrongful death settlement amounts to $250,000. The surviving spouse would receive $50,000, plus half of what’s remaining, which is $100,000. In total the spouse would get $150,000. This leaves a remaining balance of $100,000, so if there are two children they would each get $50,000.

If there isn’t a surviving spouse, then the wrongful death claim award would be divided equally between the children. When there is no spouse or children, the wrongful death beneficiary could be one or both parents of the deceased. After this, it would go to the parent’s children.

What types of damages are wrongful death beneficiaries entitled to receive in a claim?

Pecuniary damages address the financial loss that beneficiaries experience when a loved one dies. It is up to the courts to decide what is not only fair and just, but reasonable when it comes to compensation.

Typically the damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim include costs for medical care the loved one received as a result of the fatal injury, along with funeral expenses. It may also address earnings.

When considering the financial contribution of the deceased, it is generally based on what the deceased could have reasonably been expected, not only in earnings but fringe benefits as well.

In looking at earnings, a New York personal injury attorney in Long Island will factor in the age of the deceased and potential increase in wages. Life expectancy and the deceased’s dependents will also be considered. There may be a difference in someone leaving behind young children compared to older teens who may have been dependents for only a few more years.

Other types of damages recoverable by a wrongful death beneficiary could include: 

  • loss of household services;
  • pain and suffering; and
  • loss of companionship.

New York does allow for punitive damages in some cases. These are awarded to punish the defendant because of recklessness or malicious intent.

Do I need legal advice in New York with a personal injury attorney in Long Island when a loved one is the victim of wrongful death?

In New York, a personal injury attorney in Long Island is often helpful when seeking wrongful death claim damages. These types of cases tend to be very complicated, not only in determining damages but being able to prove that someone else’s negligence was the cause of the accident and ultimately a loved one’s death.

There is also a limited timeframe in which to file this type of case. In New York, that is two years from the date of death. Family members can set up a consultation to review potential for a wrongful death claim and go over who may be a wrongful death beneficiary in New York with a personal injury attorney in Long Island.

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